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Due to an accident while swimming in the sea, Francis meets the surfer Moondoggy. She's fascinated of his sport and starts to hang out with his clique. Although they make fun of her at first, they teach her to surf. Soon she's accepted and given the nickname "Gidget". But it's hard work to become more than a friend to Moondoggy. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
The title character was based on the author's daughter, Kathy Kohner-Zuckerman, and her adventures growing up in the surf culture on the beach at Malibu in the 1950's. As of this note (July 2006), she is 62, petite, healthy and attractive and living in Pacific Palisades with her husband of 42 years. And yes, there was a "Moondoggie", who still lives in California and is an artist. See more »
During initiation of Gidget, Hot Shot grabs under her arms and her feet are grabbed by Moondoggie. When they get to the water, her position changes to a chair-like position. See more »
My grandmother, Mary, was 15 years old when she first saw the first Gidget (1959) movie with Sandra Dee and James Darren, in The New Bell Theatre in Bellflower California. She and her best friend Eunice saw a movie about growing up, discovering boys, and learning lessons. Francie is a 16 year old girl, blonde and pretty, but very young in appearance. She is recruited by her female Francie to begin a "man-hunt" on the beach where they live in sunny California, and Francie reluctantly follows. As they sit on the beach, Francie's friends try to lure the muscular tanned college men over, while the guys are referring to them as jailbait, and Francie urges the girls to join her swimming. It is not that she has no interest in boys, but as Francie told her mother, "when they start smoothing and pawing, UH doesn't it make you sick too mama?!" Mama assures her that she just needs to find the right man. So the search begins.
As we watched the movie, my grandmother pointed out things she had thought as a young adolescent girl, and also things that she thought of now that had been difficult to put into words at a young age. "That blue of the ocean, oh, even as a young girl, from then on it meant sexuality to me," my grandma confides, as she looks to see that no one else heard her. As Francie breaks away from her friends, she begins to find her self more and more, in the middle of a group of about eight very attractive, muscular, and tanned men, all older than she is, teaching her how to ride those big blue waves. The guys call her Gidget, a cross between Girl and Midget, which is a barrier to Francie in the beginning, because it shows that the guys only see her as a little girl.
My grandmother explained as we watched this film together, that this movie was what "made me look at those things in a different way. I had more interest in boys at the end of the movie!" It was the first teenage love story she had ever seen, and she seemed to almost regress to a teenager as we watched the movie together. "Oh, James Darren is such a hunk!" and "I had such a crush on him..."and "what cute clothes she wears!" She commented that after this movie she made it a point to make her wardrobe similar to Sandra Dee's. "Those shirts with the hood like you wear today, they were popular back then too." She went on to say that when girls wanted to get clothes like Gidget's, they shopped at Judy's, and that it was "the absolute place! And I got to shop there!" I could hear her begin to revert to the phrases she used as a teenager as she got excited about the fashions of her childhood.
Before the movie began, my Grandma thought about what she remembered most clearly about the movie. "I remember the dress she wore, and what color it was. It sticks in my mind to this day." During the scene where Gidget gets dressed to go to the luau, my grandmother interrupts the movie to tell me something else. "There's the dress! I don't even like orange, in fact, I hate the color orange...but that's a very special dress to me."
This movie was filmed in vibrant color and shot on the beach in Malibu. This alone drew many young people to the film. It was about discovering sex and growing up, and teenagers of the fifties were very interested. This movie was memorable to my grandma and to her friends of the fifties because of a combination longing to be on a beach surfing with hunky surf bums and the excitement for the beginning of love stories made especially for teens. Sandra Dee was the perfect teenage girl in the eyes of the youth in the fifties, because she was pretty, sweet, innocent, and smart, yet she still had the sense of adventure, rebellion, and need for sex in which the kids of the fifties were becoming more and more interested.
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